Archive for August 28th, 2022

August 28, 2022

The park/garden of the Castle of Saint Germain en Laye !!!

I had it all as well in the Yvelines, history/architecture and plenty of wonders to see, One of my favorites was visiting Saint Germain en Laye with its market and garden/park of the Château of St Germain en Laye now an archeology museum. Oh yes this is Saint Germain en Laye in my old Yvelines dept 78 of the Île de France region. I like to update this dear post of family memories ; hope you enjoy it as I.

sgl chateau garden parc to chateau mar12

First, a bit on the castle , briefly as have several posts on it already in my blog.

The Château of Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a former residence of the kings of France. The current castle was built under François Ier by Pierre de Chambiges, from 1539. Enlarged several times by his successors, it was a royal residence until 1682, when Louis XIV left it definitively for Versailles. The chapel of the castle, in Gothic style, is a vestige of the old fortified castle built by Louis VI le Gros. It was built by Saint Louis (Louis IX) in 1238. King Louis XIV was born at the Château Neuf now gone, the one you see is the Château Vieux that is the museum. Louis XIV was also baptized there. The castle was transformed into a cavalry school under Napoleon I, it later housed a military penitentiary. It was restored under Napoleon III. Since 1867, it has housed the National Archeology Museum.  In January 19, 1777, the dilapidated Château Neuf was given by King Louis XVI to his younger brother the Comte d’Artois (later king Charles X grandson of Louis XV) to carry out the work. Demolition and reconstruction projects are established. However, the French revolution arrives, the castle is seized as national property and sold to the former manager who demolishes it, subdivides the land and sells the materials. Today, only the Henri IV Pavilion (a nice restaurant today see post) , the Garden Pavilion, the Sully Pavilion at nearby Le Pecq, a terrace and its two ramps at the end of rue Thiers which overlooks the avenue du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny and some vestiges in the cellars of the district ,one at 3 rue des Arcades remains.

The gardener Claude Mollet, creates the terraced gardens on the east facade of the Château Neuf for king Henri IV. These gardens, designed at the border of the 16C and 17C, were then adorned with caves, water games and hydraulic automata.  On the north facade of Château Vieux, the regular gardens were created under the direction of André Le Nôtre, between 1663 and 1673. This one, much appreciated by king Louis XIV, redesigned the green spaces of the two castles, the Château Vieux by François I and the Château-Neuf of Henri IV; by creating three separate gardens, namely a large flowerbed (grand parterre), a slanting flowerbed (jardin à l’Anglaise later on) and the Dauphine garden. (jardin de la Dauphine).


In addition, Le Nôtre imposes here the genius of perspective. Its Grand Terrace, built between 1669 and 1674, 2,4 km long, is a true masterpiece of perspective. It offers an exceptional panoramic view over the entire Seine valley, extending to the edge of the forest. Beautiful walks in the heart of lush greenery await you. An orientation table erected 84 meters high allow you to identify the main landscape and architectural elements of the panorama. You passed by several ornate wrought iron gates or grille ; starting from the main entrance across from the RER A station you have the Grille des Loges walking to your right you have the Grille Detaille ; going along the walls of the castle facing the parc garden you have the Grille de la Surintendance ; then Grill du Château next to the castle ; walking aroun the Grand Parterre on the allée Henri II you have the Grille du Boulingrin ; continue at end you see the Grille Henri IV ; this is on the Allée Henri IV and the Petite Terrasse;at end before entering the Grand Terrasse you see the Grille Dauphine ; step back a bit and enter the Grande Terrasse at end you see the Grille de la Demi-Lune ; further you have the Rond Royal and into the forest and the Château du Val ! Sublime ! Do it !


In 1845, an English garden was created by Loaisel de Tréogate, At the foot of the Grand Terrace, nearly 2,000 vines have been planted that allow the towns of Le Pecq and Saint-Germain-en-Laye to reconnect with their wine-growing tradition. The train line from Paris-Saint-Lazare to Saint-Germain-en-Laye passes underground via the tunnel of the terrace, dating from the 1840s. It is framed on the one hand by the viaduct over the Seine and on the other through a second tunnel under what remains of the grand parterre, not far from Saint-Germain-en-Laye train station. Since 1996, the A14 highway crosses the terrace through the Saint-Germain tunnel for 1855 meters at 60 meters underground; to the east, the viaduct of Montesson buried the highway below the terrace.


A vast basin 50 meters in diameter with a 22-meter water jet will indeed see the light of day in the Grand Parterre of the gardens/park of the Domaine national de Saint-Germain. The project, in progress, should be completed by the end of summer 2022.Stay tune ! You can go free to the park and the Petite and Grand terraces of the Domaine de Saint-Germain-en-Laye every day. This is a must after visiting the museum, the walks are superbe and the views sublime over to La Defense and Paris!


The official National Archeology museum of the castle St Germain en Laye

The city of St Germain en Laye on its garden /park

The local Seine St Germain en Laye tourist office on the castle/museum :

There you go folks, a wonderful city, much to see ,architecturally stunning and full of history near Paris easy on public transports with the RER A; no excuses a must to see. The garden/park of the Château de Saint Germain en Laye.Sublime !

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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August 28, 2022

The Pavillon Henri IV ,and Louis XIV !!!

Back to more familiar territory of my belle France. Again, even if posted several on this area there is always something missing that I am trying to bring back to life. I will uupdate this older post on the historical Pavillon Henri IV of Saint Germain en Laye !!!  Maybe the name do not ring a bell but it does a lot to me as even dined there!! and know the architecture and history of this place close to my former home of Versailles. This is in wonderful Saint Germain en LayeYvelines dept 78 of the Île de France region.


The Pavillon Henri IV is a gourmet hotel-restaurant located at the side back of the Castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, now Archeology museum.(see post), The Pavillon Henri IV exactly at the end of 19 rue Thiers, at the southern end of the large terrace, overlooking the Seine valley to the east. Really the back of the castle! The Pavillon Henri IV is exposed on the hillside and overlooks the Seine valley. The gourmet restaurant benefits from this spectacular panoramic view.


The building that houses this establishment includes a historic part, the pavilion of the king’s oratory, one of the surviving remains of the old Château-Neuf of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This castle, which was royal residence under Henri IV, Louis XIII and Louis XIV, until 1660, date on which the royal family resettled in the Château-Vieux, before leaving for Versailles in 1682. On the night of September 4 to 5, Anne of Austria felt the pains of childbirth and gave birth to Louis Dieudonné, the future Louis XIV, on September 5, 1638. This birth came so late that it was sometimes considered like a miracle. Louis XIV had the nickname “Louis-Dieudonné” or Louis God given, There remains of this castle the last building on the right which is now part of the Pavillon Henri VI. It is said that Charles X wanted to destroyed the pavilion for it was already dilapidated in order to rebuild it, the French revolution put an early end to this project. What was left was then sold as national property.


In 1825, an entrepreneur by the name of Barthélémy Planté bought it before restoring and enlarging it, then ceded it to the West Railway Company, the building was then rented to Jean-Louis-François Collinet, chef, who transformed it into a restaurant. This restaurant quickly acquired a certain celebrity thanks to this chef to whom we owe the creation of pommes soufflées and sauce béarnaise (yeah right here folks!). The puffed potatoes were invented by chance on August 24, 1837, the first day of train service between Paris Saint-Lazare station and the Le Pecq landing stage, located just next to the bridge on the right bank of the Seine river. A reception was organized in this restaurant for Queen Marie-Amélie who was on the train. The delay in the train forced the chef to reheat his apples by immersing them in the oil, which gave the “puffed apples” look and voilà French gastronomy had an addition.

Some famous names ,and not so famous by here were : In the 1840s, Alexandre Dumas resided at the hotel and it was there that he wrote some of his most famous works, such as Les Trois Mousquetaires and Le Comte de Monte-Cristo. Jacques Offenbach will spend the end of May 1877, the spring of 1879 and the summer of 1880 at the Henri IV Pavilion. He will compose pages of his latest works: Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Belle Lurette. Adolphe Thiers, first president of the Third Republic, who came to rest there, died there on September 3, 1877.  Other names were Georges V, Victor Hugo, and Franz Listz.  The great headquarters of the Nazis army for the occupied zone was installed in the Pavillon Henri IV, until it was hit by a bomb from the Royal Air Force on March 3, 1942; it is then transferred to Villa David. From November 1 to 16, 1955, on his way back from exile from Madagascar, the Moroccan monarch Mohammed V occupied the entire hotel with his family and his suite. A plaque commemorating his stay was inaugurated on July 24, 1982, as part of the twinning between Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Témara.

The official Pavillon Henri IV

The Seine St Germain en Laye tourist office on the Pavillon Henri IV

There you go folks, a wonderful historical place with great views over afar Paris and the service is sublime worthy of its reputation , worth the detour even for a look alone. The Pavillon Henri IV is part of our history and on wonderful Saint Germain en Laye! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

August 28, 2022

My favorite gardens of the Île de France region of France !!

I have decided to be romantic ok, and talk about gardens; we have many beautiful ones and some are well known. I like to update this monumental task to remember my dear late wife Martine who was the inspiring gardener who took me to so many of these. I am no expert but will try go give a general description on them. Let me tell you about my favorite gardens of the Île de France region of France !!

Now , let me tell you my stories on them. Briefly ok, because it can be long stories, lol !

Thoiry. is a castle and open air zoo but it has beautiful gardens of the castle and a great labyrinth ,the English style garden, a flower prairie , a hill of roses, garden of rhododendrons, garden of perfumes and garden of autumn. It’s a bit awkward in going there from Paris, I have been there by car. Thoiry on the gardens:

More noble,the parc du Bois de Préau in Rueil-Malmaison, was a property of Imperatrice  Joséphine and she has a statue there. It is a real English style garden of 17 hectares. It has rare centenary trees like the hazelnut of Byzance or the common charme, the Corsican pine, or the giant sequoia. TheChâteau de Bois-Préau remind us of the time of the Emperor in Sainte Hélène  and the return of his ashes to Paris. it was the last acquisition of Joséphine, where she house her doctor and has many memorable objects. After her death in 1814, many owners went by until purchase in 1920 by the American couple Tuck that eventually did a donation of it in 1926 to the national museums of France to create an annex to the Château de Malmaison. Webpage:

Then, I take you to tranquil surrounding of an old abbey. This is the medieval Abbey of Royaumont. There is a garden and a cloister, vegetable garden and a long canal. It is all in 6 hectares with many signs of medieval times.  The Cistercian monks of the 13C were master of the hydraulic canalization to bring the water to the one point in the monastery. Today there are medicinal  plants from the middle ages still there and shape in 1912 into a French style garden with renaissance lawns.  There is a vegetable garden or potager of 160 varieties of vegetables, 3000 plants, and 60 fruit trees! Abbey webpage :

The Arboretum de Chèvreloup, is handle by the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle. Here in more than  200 hectares you can discover over  2500 species and varieties of trees with the best collection of western Europe. This is practically attach to Versailles, it was part of the domaine and even king Louis XIV planted trees there; after the French revolution it was split and now is a stand along park, It was one of my hangouts when in town, webpage:

Since 1766  the students of the veterinary school of Alfort have their own botanical garden and you can visit it in groups to discover toxic plants and medicinal plants, This is at 7 Avenue du Général de Gaulle, Maisons-Alfort in Val de Marne dept94 contact; musee@vet-alfort,fr  botanical garden webpage :

The Jardin botanique de Luzarches or botanical and it’s 2500 plants awaits you and do not missed the purple oak dating from the 18C.  The garden is open on weekends. Tourist office of dept 95 Val d’Oise on the botanical gardens:

The national conservatory of plants of perfumes, medicinal, aromatics and industrials  or  Conservatoire National des Plantes à Parfum, Médicinales, Aromatiques et Industrielles  welcomes you to its greenhouse garden center, botanical garden , agronomic center and interpretation center with a sensorial walk into it’s collections of more than 1500 species , completed with a museographer presentation. Located in an old plant dryer building you will be walk into the history of plants ,their origins and their daily use. This is at Route de Nemours, 91490 Milly-la-foret (Essonne 91). Webpage :

In one of the best medieval towns in the region or even France, that of Provins in Seine-et-Marne 77, you have a beautiful Rosary or Rosarie, where you will see, know, and learn about the old and new roses of our world.  City of Provins tourist office webpage :

If you like contemporary art, then go to these two. Rentilly you need to go .The cultural park of Rentilly or  Parc culturel de Rentilly ,and it castle offers every year expositions , webpage :

Or the Domaine de Chamarande , the expositions and spectacles, shops on the program  with the opportunity to visit a wonderful garden paysagiste ; located at 38, rue du Commandant Arnoux , 91730 Chamarande.  Webpage :

There is a wonderful garden and beautiful castle, need to be visit more. A magnificent park of 75 hectares with botanical curiosities such as a labyrinth and a playground. The Chateau de  Breteuil was built on a hill overlooking the natural regional park of the valley of the Chevreuse or Parc Naturel Régional de la Vallée de Chevreuse.  There is a French style garden there over 400 years with a lake glass of water,and parterres of ifs trees and nicely cut shrubs while the Castle garden are in the English style on one of the lawns looking at the Chevreuse valley or  Vallée de Chevreuse.  There are massive rhododendrons in flower trees in the Spring, for wonderful bicycle trails in autumn and a promenade that takes you to two lakes with plenty of ducks.  In the vestiges of a plantation dating from the 18C are now terraces Italian style with the oldest the current prince gardens or Jardin des Princes  with a nice collection of plants, trees, and flowers around a vegetable garden  and a pergola covered with roses in spring. In another terrace, you have the  the laberynth with 1000 shrubs or the  labyrinthe aux 1000 buis, opened in 2000, and a current interpretation of the forest lost of the 19C. Castle and gardens webpage:

In the regional natural park of the upper valley of the Chevreuse or the Parc Naturel Régional de la Haute Vallée de Chevreuse, you have the wonderful semi private Château de Saint-Jean de Beauregard , always sought after for its wonderful gardens The Castle has seven courses and the park and garden French style in a perfect square where you find the Chapel, commons areas, stables, vegetable garden , pigeonier , orangerie, freezer, and pigeons cellars , all the element for life in the 17C. The Domain ofSaint-Jean de Beauregardis a family owned property inhabited year around with the current owners showcasing their gardens.  Their passion allowed for the creation of the first festival of plants or Fête des Plantes in 1984 becoming one of the main garden events in France. The pigeon house or pigeonnier of Saint-Jean de Beauregard  is one of the biggest in the region of Île-de France with 12 meters high and a bending roof , a must on the visit. One of the best vegetable gardens since the 17C, the flower garden here is one of the rare that have survived to our days; it has 2 hectares with flowers, fruits and vegetables rare or hard to find. The walk is very nice and allowed you see wonderful trees and grape green houses , fruit trees etc. Part of the park has been changed into a garden English style early 20C allowing the creation of a lake and new tree species such as oaks, etc. Castle webpage:

One of the best known rosaries is the one at Hay les Roses or  Roseraie de l’Haÿ les Roses, today more known as the rosary of the Marne valley or Roseraie du Val de Marne. It is located at Rue Albert Watel L’Hay Les Roses Val de Marne dept 94, It has the most important collection of old roses in the world! They were made and designed by  Edouard André,a well known gardener of the 19C upon the request of an avid  collector Jules Gravereaux. Webpage :

The park of the Champs Castle or the Parc du Château de Champs in Champs-sur-Marne, dept 77 Seine-et-Marne is a wonderful garden with a Castle.  Garden started in 1710 due to Claude Desgots a grand nephew of the master André le Nôtre that followed his principals very well. A big axe with basins and sculptures, a big alley along the wall of the property, lawns in the middle and bordered with trees, parterres and division of small forests with transversal alleys; however, the lawn surface are more and closer to the castle. This is one of the best preserved garden and castle combination in the region, and only 18 km from Paris. National Monuments on the castle/garden:

Another one in the good department 77 … we have the Templars commanders garden or the Jardin de la Commanderie des TempliersIt’s  a center of culture and history of the commanderie of Templars with a medieval inspiration in Coulommiers (also another good Brie cheese area AOP) , the garden is composed of square borders of chesnut trees. The plants were chosen and raised taken example of miniatures from the middle ages and old maps of the abbey of Saint-Gall. They are vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants that today serve to raise funds for the center. This is a great place to visit for the history of the Templars and the gardens, The Coulommiers Brie country local tourist office on the garden:

Another wonderful castle and garden in my beloved Seine-et-Marne 77 is the castle of Ferriéres or Château de Ferrières and its old park, former owned by a certain Rothschild.  The park passed by many gardeners and botanical folks until in 1854 an English architect and gardener  Joseph Paxton upon the request of James de Rothschild,gave it the look we see today.  The castle and garden were done again with lakes and streams with bridges done like harbors like the one at the island or Île d’Amour,love island surrounded by trees, lovely indeed.  It is now private functions castle such as wedding but you can inquire about visiting the gardens and its ok, Castle webpage:

At the heart of the departemental domain of the wolves valley or the Domaine départemental de la Vallée aux Loups you can discovered another interesting arboretum with over 500 species of trees on 12 hectares.  This is a park done on the English style with small ornamental construction called factories to surprise all along the walk. It was created by the pharmacist of Napoléon I facing the property of Chateaubriand in the park with many rare trees . In 1890, it changed owner to a gardener who re arranged the arboretum with lakes and suspended bridges as well as kiosks and factories while cultivating the essences of the Americas and Asia today over 100 years old trees  such as China poplar, hairy oak trees , myrsine oak, heavy wood pine and a weeping blue cedar of 680 m2 in diameter that can be look on the lake reflexes. Here do not missed the house of Chateaubriand where he lived and where he writes the first chapters of his memories of the grave or  ‘Mémoires d’Outre-tombe’, with welcome visits, conferences and expositions.  Located at 46 rue de Chateaubriand / avenue Jean Jaures,   Chatenay-Malabry (92 dept Hauts-de-Seine). You are best by car direction rue Eugène Sinet on your GPS. At the end of this street is the intersection with rue de Chateaubriand: opposite, a public car park accessible all day; on the left, the house of Chateaubriand (whose entrance gate is a hundred meters further on, right side), webpage :

We come to a wonderful garden castle. This is the Château d’Ambleville with a feudal origins, gardens in three terraces inspired from the Villa Gamberaia in Florence, Italy and the portraits of Villa Arthena in Rome. A corner of Italy in the region of Île de France, the sun garden or Jardin du Soleil is a huge chessboard, the moon garden or jardin de la Lune with 6 statues of the times, and the Eyes garden or Jardin de l’Oeil taking you to four rooms of greens, Italy at your feet. The city of Ambleville on the castle/garden :

One of my favorites is the gardens in the donjon castle of La Roche Guyon, in the same dept 95 Val d’Oise. This is a French style garden with a vegetable garden or the Jardin Potager du Château de La Roche Guyon . It has four parterres or square lawns divided into 32 triangular parcels with octagonal alleys, a central basin in each square and fruit trees bordering them.  At the time, around 1740, the garden had 675 trees of which  442 pears, 143 apples, some of peach and prunes. After a long period of neglect the garden has had a revival to find its initial vocation of the 18C by the owner  La Rochefoucauld ; a space of production and experimental agro, where seeds and biodiversity are a primary place all around a central garden.  Do not missed the castle and especially the underground cellars famous from WWII. Webpage:

Another wonderful garden, moat and domain that I love going with my family for their medieval market days is the parc de Villarceaux  with  63 hectares of walks and the mansion or Manoir de Ninon, renaissance style and the high castle or Château du Haut in the Classical style.  Beautiful views, alignments and water basins. The  domaine de Villarceaux (which includes all of the before mentioned)  is a must in the area even if by car is a must to visit; take the A13 direction Rouen to exit/sortir 11 at Mante Est,and follow direction Beauvais and you will begin to see signs for Villarceaux at Chaussy.  You have gorgeous gardens, terraces and water basins all around you and history of course. Domaine webpage :

The official gardens in all of France,just go « selectionnez une région «  and go to Île de France:

There you go folks, a wonderful gardens of the Île de France post, I wanted to show you and update long ago, These brings lots of wonderful family memories for us here. I hope with this post for you to enjoy them too and maybe one day visit them too. All worth the detour me think. I do have some individual posts on some of them in my blog,

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

August 28, 2022

Let’s go again to the Potager du Roi of Versailles !!

I  have written so much on my dear Versailles, sorry if sometimes I repeat myself. Of course, written on the wonderful Potager du Roi ,but have some new older pictures to tell you a recap and encourage you to visit it. This is a wonderful historical part of my dear Versailles; hope you enjoy it as I.

At the request of king Louis XIV, gardener Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinie made this vegetable/fruit garden between 1678-1683.  It provided the king with its own supplies of veggies well done for his taste. The design is of three central trails of about 3 hectares ( 7,4 acres) divided into 16 squares all around a fountain. At the center of each square, surrounded by fruit trees, you have rounds of vegetables flourishing. You will have a wonderful view of this from the terraces. You will discover about 12 enclosed gardens with its collection of fruit trees where still the art of growing them continues. You can,also, with time take a course in gardening at this wonderful place.


The Potager du Roi is located at 10 rue du Maréchal Joffre, just in front of the Cathédrale Saint Louis (see post). You can come from Paris on the RER C to Château Rive Gauche station, take a left on Avenue du Général de Gaulle ,take right on Rue du Général Leclerc and  take left on Rue du Maréchal Joffre, about 10 mins walking. It is open from April 1 to October 31 every day except Mondays from 10h to 18h, and from November 1 to March 31 the tuesdays and thursdays from 10h to 13h. However these are the general times, it can change each year.


The King’s Vegetable garden, or potager du roi ,which has an orchard of some 5 000 fruit trees (more than 400 different varieties), produces good year bad year about 50 tons of fruit and 20 tons of vegetables, part of which is sold in the store boutique (open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays morning). It is a nice place and recently given the attention it deserve for renovation and keep it for generations to come.


The official Potager du Roi :

The official l’École nationale supérieure de paysage or the National School of Landscape management of the Potager du Roi

The Versailles tourist office on the Potager du Roi :

There you go folks, another dandy in Versailles, and like i always repeat, the Royal city is more than a Palace/Museum even if this is huge indeed. Hope you enjoy your visit here a lot more than a one day trip to the palace and enjoy fully my dear Versailles. Hope you have enjoy the post and even more enjoy your visit to the Potager du Roi too!!! superbe!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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